A Muslim politician and government critic arrested in Sri Lanka
must be immediately released or charged with an internationally
recognizable criminal offence, Amnesty International said.
Azad Sally, leader of Sri Lanka’s newly formed Muslim Tamil
National Alliance, was reportedly taken into custody Thursday by
the intelligence services for unknown reasons, Amnesty said.
Sally has been an outspoken critic of a Buddhist group, Bodu Bala
Sena, which has since February allegedly attacked Muslim and
Christian religious establishments.
On April 29, Sally told journalists he was in hiding because he
feared for his safety after receiving threats in state-run media.
“Azad Sally’s arrest, and the harassment he has faced over the
past weeks, is indicative of the climate of fear government
critics in Sri Lanka are forced to live under," said Polly
Truscott, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
"He must be released immediately or charged with an
internationally recognisable criminal offence,” Truscott said.
“He has been campaigning to end oppressive practices against
minorities in Sri Lanka, in particular Muslims and Tamils, for
which he has faced the ire of the Sri Lankan government.
“Sally appears to be the latest victim in the intensifying
crackdown on dissenting views we have seen in recent years,
motivated by the government’s desire to tighten its grip on
power," Truscott said.
"Journalists, the judiciary, human rights workers and opposition
politicians like Sally are among those who have been targeted
through threats, harassment and vicious violent attacks.”
The Sri Lankan government remains set to host the Commonwealth
Summit in November despite calls by Amnesty International and
others for it to be relocated.